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Old 03-07-2021, 12:25 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2021
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Exclamation HELP! Stuck between two buses! (ASAP)

First bus: $2500, 6 hour drive to pick up.
"Itís a 2006 GMC 20 passenger school bus with 233,000 miles on gas motor has front and rear AC runs and drives good 2500 or best offer"

Second bus: $3000, 3 hour drive to pick up.
"International D444 2003 model with a 7.4 engine automatic with 123000 miles 26 passenger runs great but will need batteries. $3000 obo from an Agency that hauls kindergarten kids. Does need batteries, but nothing else I know of."

Essentially I am wondering which bus is a better investment to order and pay for an inspection on, as I do not know much about buses myself. Please let me know of any thoughts and/or suggestions you have!!

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Old 03-07-2021, 01:06 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Auburn, WA
Posts: 779
Year: 2000
Coachwork: IC / Amtran
Chassis: 3000 / 33' Flat Nose
Engine: IC T444E / Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 72 Kids / 48 Adults
Quote:
Originally Posted by lyndseylouwho View Post
First bus: $2500, 6 hour drive to pick up.
"Itís a 2006 GMC 20 passenger school bus with 233,000 miles on gas motor has front and rear AC runs and drives good 2500 or best offer"

Second bus: $3000, 3 hour drive to pick up.
"International D444 2003 model with a 7.4 engine automatic with 123000 miles 26 passenger runs great but will need batteries. $3000 obo from an Agency that hauls kindergarten kids. Does need batteries, but nothing else I know of."

Essentially I am wondering which bus is a better investment to order and pay for an inspection on, as I do not know much about buses myself. Please let me know of any thoughts and/or suggestions you have!!
So, very little to go on, but I'll throw in my two cents.

Engine:
The less emissions you have on an engine, generally the better, especially a diesel, especially the years you're looking at because it was all just starting to be added during those years.

Personally, I prefer diesel over gas. That's if they are in good repair, you learn how to drive to not hurt the engine and you keep the filters and fluids changed and clean.

A gas engine with that many miles makes me uncomfortable.

I think you might mean a T444E or a DT466. Either are good engines as long as they have been cared for. I have a T444E. The T444E has several horsepower ratings, from 190 to 250. I have the 230 and it pushes my 33' flatnose nicely.

Transmission:
The more gears the better. More gears equal better mpg, lower RPMs and a tighter power band when climbing hills. A five speed is good, a six is better.

Allison is one of the most common transmissions. The AT545 is a very light duty tranny and isn't rated for very much hp. The MT643, what I have, is much heavy duty, but like the AT545, a mechanical tranny with only 4 gears. An Allison 1000 or 2000 series would be electronic and should have 5 gears minimum with the possibility of unlocking a 6th gear. If it has a 3000 series, woo hoo!

When you drive the bus, make sure you drive it on the freeway to assure you can cruise 65 at somewhere around 2000-2100ish. Diesel engines don't rev like gas engines, they generally have a computer imposed redline of 2600-2700 rpm.

You also want to test it for downshifting in two scenarios.
1) At about 35mph stomp on it and see if it downshifts and moves on up through all the gears.
2) Going up a long steep grade with your foot to the floor, is it starts loosing speed, let it and see if it automatically downshifts somewhere around 1800, if not, manually downshift it at about 1700 to protect the tranny.

If it won't cruise at decent RPMs or downshift, you will have problems down the road, literally.

Tires:
Generally there are 6 of them, if it's a full size bus they are 40" tall and are not cheap to buy or have installed. Point is, making sure there is plenty of tread and they are in good shape, not showing cracking and such, will save you a lot of money down the road.

Body:
Exterior damage, dents and such. Dings are okay, but dents mean body work.

Most importantly, rust! You need to get under the bus with a really bright flash light and crawl from front to back, right to left looking for signs of rust, especially on the wheel wells and floor. Bring a metal rod that you can poke and prod to see if the sheet metal is soft or good and firm.

While you're under the bus, look at the engine and transmission for signs of leaks, especially fresh leaks. Do this before you drive it, but especially after you drive it when all the fluids are hot and thin.

Guages:
Notice the water and tranny temperatures, the oil pressure and if it's brakes are air, the air gauge. Generally, the air tanks (2) go up to 120lbs and should not loose much more then a 5 to 7 lbs each time you apply the brakes. The governor will kick off and you will hear a big air release when the tanks reach their pressure. If that's not happening, their could be air system problems, which is a huge safety issue....because no air, no brakes! Assure the air guage works and they cut off at 120lbs.

Brakes should not pull the wheel one directions or the other. Nice and straight when you push pretty hard on them.

I think that's the best I can do with my limited knowledge and time.

Overall, the second bus with lower miles, closer to home and just a few hundred $ more would be my choice barring anything obviously wrong.

Best of luck.
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Old 03-07-2021, 01:34 AM   #3
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Wow! Thank you for such a thoughtful and informative response; it's really appreciated! I have heard that the diesel is the better investment from a few sources now. Thanks so much.
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Old 03-07-2021, 06:31 AM   #4
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You might also look through the threads linked in my sig to help you sort through a few other factors that most don't think of.
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Old 03-07-2021, 07:32 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 37
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: ER Transit
Engine: ISC
It really come down to condition and intended use. If both are in similar shape and properly sized for your application, the big question becomes: how often will it actually be driven? Are you planning on full timing or vacationing? A vacation or primarily stationary rig will be better served with the gas motor. Significant amounts of travel are better suited to the diesel.
Jaybz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2021, 07:57 AM   #6
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Near Flagstaff AZ
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Between Simplicity's great response, and Cheese_Wagon's linked primers, I think you'll find your answers. And as Simplicity implied, we don't yet have enough info to offer fully-informed "pick this or that one" answers. After you look and get the tranny information and pics of the conditions, come back and share those with us.

But...my first reaction here...knowing what we know now...I'd be leaning heavily towards option two...the diesel.
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Old 03-07-2021, 08:58 AM   #7
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Rated Cap: None
I personally have backed off of diesel power, mostly due to severe asthma, which diesel exhaust and fumes can both trigger and cause. Engine exhaust in general can do it, but especially diesel. I feel I would be doing anyone a disservice by not mentioning that. I only have enough room in my sig to link the four that are there, but you might also check out my thread "Re-Routing Skoolie Exhaust Overhead". I started out with a novel idea trying to work around my asthma, but found some very interesting info at some point that I think anyone would benefit from, especially those with kiddos.
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